Sometimes – OK, a lot of times – Donald Trump says the quiet part out loud.
Like during an interview on Fox Business with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday morning when Trump flatly admitted the real reason why he is blocking the inclusion of any money for the United States Postal Service in a coronavirus relief bill in Congress.
Here’s exactly what he said:
“They want $3.5 billion for something that will turn out to be fraudulent, that’s election money basically. They want $3.5 trillion – billion dollars for the mail-in votes, OK, universal mail-in ballots, $3.5 trillion. They want $25 billion, billion, for the Post Office. Now they need that money in order to have the Post Office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots…
” … Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it. So, you know, sort of a crazy thing. Very interesting.”
Let’s be very, very clear about what Trump is saying here.
1) Democrats want funding in a coronavirus relief bill for the Postal Service.
2) They want that money so that the USPS can adequately deal with what is expected to be a major surge in mail-in and absentee balloting due to concerns about in-person voting spreading Covid-19.
3) Trump refuses to give them that money – or include it in any sort of deal – because, without it, there won’t be the ability for the people to cast more mail-in ballots, or – and this is really important – for election officials to effectively count them all.
(And that’s putting aside the fact that in blocking the coronavirus bill because of the money allotted for the Postal Service, the President is blocking a whole lot of other things, including increased education funding and rent/mortgage assistance, that many people in the country badly need.)
This is the President of the United States purposely trying to make it harder for votes to be counted.
Why? Because he believes that mail-in balloting is ripe for fraud.
The problem with that view is that it is simply not supported by any real data. While Trump likes to focus on 500,000 absentee ballot applications being sent with the wrong return address in Virginia recently, the truth of the matter is that while mistakes like that one can get made, there’s just no evidence of widespread purposeful voting fraud.
There is study after study that make this fact plain.
In one, Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt tracked US elections from 2000 to 2014 in search of voter fraud, or, as he put it, “specific, credible allegation that someone may have pretended to be someone else at the polls.”
How many examples did he find? Exactly 31 – out of more than 1 billion instances. 31! (That’s an infinitesimally small number). That’s not to say that each of those 31 instances of attempted voter fraud isn’t worth an investigation. We don’t want any voter fraud. But it is to say that 31 instances out of more than 1 billion is nothing anywhere close to widespread voter fraud.
The Levitt study is far from the only one to draw such a conclusion. A five-year study on voter fraud commissioned by George W. Bush – a Republican – found that same conclusion as Levitt. Wrote The New York Times at the time: “The Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.”
In the 2016 election, in which more than 135 million votes were cast, there were a total of four documented cases of voter fraud, according to The Washington Post’s Philip Bump.
What is happening here is that Trump is using the power of the executive branch to block legislation solely because of a totally fact-free belief that mail-in balloting is ripe for fraud. And because – and he said this too! – he thinks that mail-in balloting benefits Democrats.
“The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said in April of Democrats’ push for all mail-in voting this election. “They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
Given all of that context, it’s very clear that Trump is working to block money for the post office because he thinks it’s his best chance to either stop or badly disrupt the way the votes will be cast and counted in this election. The American president. In his own reelection race. A race he has repeatedly suggested is “rigged” and “biased” because of the likely increase in mail-in ballots.
“This will be the greatest fraud in history,” Trump told Bartiromo of the 2020 election Thursday. “This will be the most fraudulent – this will be almost as fraudulent as Obama spying on my campaign, but not quite. This will be the greatest fraud in history.”
Trump also admitted that he was playing a role – or at least trying to play a role – in undermining the ability of voters to cast ballots and for those votes to be counted.
Which is a stunning admission – even by Trump’s standards.